This piece was originally published in the December 16, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.
“If we want to talk about handouts, let’s talk about the tax breaks given to billionaires.”
— Representative-elect Cori Bush (D-MO)
If we split up the money billionaires have made *just during the pandemic*, we could send every American a check for $3,000.
We need to tax the rich.
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IN THE NEWS
- It’s been six months since Mike Pence penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave.’” On June 16, the day the op-ed was published, the United States recorded 24,885 new cases and 769 deaths. Yesterday — six months after the vice president assured us the pandemic was on its way out — we saw 201,649 new cases and 2,957 deaths. More than 300,000 people are now dead.
- A coronavirus relief bill is all but finalized, according to reports from the Hill. House and Senate leadership indicated a deal was imminent this morning, and negotiations are still ongoing as we write this. While it’s not official yet, the bill will likely include around $900 billion in spending, a decrease of $8 billion from what was being floated earlier this week. The state and local funding portion, as well as the corporate immunity provision backed by GOP senators, have been scrapped.
- On the bright side, the plan would include one-time stimulus checks and supplemental unemployment payments, which were critical to keeping Americans out of poverty this spring. But there’s a catch: The payments are way lower than last time. According to one senator’s estimate, the proposed one-time checks would be for just $600 or 700 — a fraction of the $1,200 that Americans received in the spring. And the unemployment payments, which were previously $600/week, are expected to be cut in half to $300/week and could only last for a month or two.
- While we’re glad to see checks are back in play, a one-time payment of a few hundred dollars doesn’t even cover a month of rent in most places. And just to reiterate: If we divided up the money that America’s billionaires made during the pandemic — not even their entire wealth, literally just the amount that they’ve accrued since March — we could send every American a check for $3,000 right now.
- This isn’t just about one stimulus bill, although it is extremely important. This is systemic. America had an economic inequality problem before the pandemic, and it’s only gotten worse this year. It’s on our leaders to save lives and keep people housed with food on the table, during the pandemic or otherwise. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) echoed that sentiment. “Unfortunately this proposal does not address the crisis in the way that it should,” Sanders said earlier. “This is a step forward, and I certainly look forward to a Biden administration working with us to get significantly more help to those people who need it.”
- A Congressional investigation found emails that show a top Trump appointee advocating for intentionally allowing people to be infected with COVID. According to Politico, then-science advisor Paul Alexander urged other Health and Human Services officials to adopt a “herd immunity” approach of infecting millions of people, which experts warn is dangerous and misguided. “We want them infected,” Alexander wrote in a July email, a reference to the groups of people he seemingly deems expendable in this scenario.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- A new report shows that decades of tax cuts for the rich didn’t “trickle down” as promised. The study, which was conducted by an economist at the London School of Economics, found that rather than helping the economy or sparking job creation, tax cuts for wealthy Americans only really helped the rich themselves. “Policy makers shouldn’t worry that raising taxes on the rich to fund the financial costs of the pandemic will harm their economies,” the author said in a recent interview.
- President-elect Joe Biden announced a handful of additional cabinet picks this week. His nominee for Transportation Secretary is former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Biden is also expected to name former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to lead the Department of Energy in the coming days.
- Also on the radar is Biden’s nominee for Interior Secretary, who has yet to be announced. Indigenous activists and members of Congress from both parties have expressed their support for Biden to select Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) for the post, citing her fierce advocacy on public lands and tribal issues. Haaland became one of the first Indigenous women to be elected to Congress in 2018; if nominated, she would also be the first Indigenous person to lead the Department of Interior. Today, Speaker Pelosi gave a potential Haaland nomination her blessing, brushing off questions around filling Haaland’s seat should she vacate it.
- Mitch McConnell finally acknowledged Joe Biden’s presidential win yesterday. He’s about a month and a half late. Welcome to reality, Mitch. We’re with Julián Castro, who tweeted that “Mitch McConnell getting credit simply for referring to Joe Biden as ‘President-elect’ is peak low-bar-setting.”
WHAT WE’RE READING